Pig. Fatass. Gross. Overweight. Obese.
Those were the words I often heard. I have never been stick thin, but I have never been overweight. However, the summer before my freshman year of college, I felt overweight. My clothes started becoming tighter, and I started to feel less comfortable in actual clothes and more comfortable in sweats.
I was disgusted with the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror. However, the more unhappy I became the less I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to sit there and feel sorry for myself. It wasn’t until I became involved with an all-star cheerleading team again that I felt like I should make an effort to change.
Life smacked me in the face. I felt dependent on compliments that were clearly forced, and I felt like my whole world had started to become smaller because I had become bigger. It was because of my weight gain that I tore my ACL not only a second time, but also a third.
With each injury, the feeling of helplessness grew stronger. My sophomore year of college was a challenge: relationship drama, coming back off of an injury/surgery, and trying to figure out how else I could become involved in my school. The insecurities overcame me, and the weight kept increasing. Before I knew it I was heading into my junior year a good 25 pounds heavier than when I started my collegiate journey, and there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
After yet another knee surgery I knew something had to change. Doctors told me that I was looking at a fourth knee surgery if I didn’t turn my life around. Other doctors were concerned with the weight gain and started doing tests. I had every test imaginable done hoping there was a medical explanation, yet everything came back negative.
Those words cut me like a knife, how could I be that off track? I had almost lost all hope but then I received Insanity as a gift. I realized that it would be a long road but I knew I had to start somewhere. However, again my knee gave out on me. I realized that I was not strong enough to even begin a weight loss program and again fell into a depressed state of mind.
Not only did I feel lousy about my appearance, but others had noticed my weight gain and felt the need to mention it. While walking around town I heard people snickering that my leggings were too tight or my shirts showed my love handles. I knew that I needed to shut people up, I just didn’t know how.
Well, that’s what I thought anyways. I thought that having worked out occasionally the summer before my senior year meant that I would be able to come back with my head held high. This was not the case. I felt even more self-conscious. All my friends had gotten the weight loss memo and had out done the work that I did. So, senioritis set in, and all I wanted to do was celebrate my impending graduation and live it up before entering the real world.
I had the most amazing Lily Pulitzer dress to wear at my graduation dinner and couldn’t wait for all the photos to be taken on graduation day in my cap and gown! Every picture I took made me disgusted. I looked like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and there was no amount of editing that could fix it.
As I readied myself for job interviews and the real world, I realized that all the clothes that were professional did not fit me at all. This made me even more upset with how bad I had let things get. It wasn’t until my final drive home from college that I realized that I was not happy, to the point that I did not want to get out of bed in the morning to put on clothes that made me look even fatter than I already was.
I took a good look in the mirror and told myself that I need to make a change or else I will regret it later in life. I did not have money to cover another knee surgery since my insurance deemed ACL reconstructive surgery “cosmetic” and wouldn’t cover the cost anymore.
I searched in my bags for Insanity this time not backing down when I felt the need to give up. This time I took a picture of myself and composed additional pictures of myself for my “before” photo and was more excited for the “after” photo than I ever anticipated.
For a month, I completed every Insanity workout, strictly following the outline given in the package, and noticed that I lost 5-10 pounds, but I wanted more. So I went out to Barnes and Nobel and bought a book on eating healthy. I read up on nutrition and what I needed to do to lose weight and keep it off.
Three months went by, and I was already down 15 pounds. This gave me the drive and desire to continue. I went to the doctor’s office to find out my weight from senior year of high school and decided that would be my goal weight; 115-120 was doable, and I would be in the correct percentile for my height.
Fast forward six months to January. I had so much to celebrate! Not only did I keep off the 15-20 pounds, but I felt amazing! I finally accepted the person in the mirror; however I still felt like something was missing. The scale had said the same thing over and over (and over and over).
How could it be that I was doing so much work and not losing any more weight when I had once been so successful?
I fell into a rut yet again, and that’s when I started to see the scale go up. How could I let myself become the person I had worked so hard to escape? Was this really going to be how my journey ended? I called my mom and told her what was going on.
Not only did she feel sympathy for me but also fear. Fear that I would yet again become the person I once was. I could not go back to being that person. It was then after grocery shopping that I received a sign. My co-worker Kait called me and told me that she wanted a workout buddy at Lifetime Fitness doing team fitness.
Without hesitation I agreed, I mean what could I lose right? Then it hit me, the countdown I knew was coming and yet wanted to forget. I had four months before my best friend’s wedding! I couldn’t go try on my dress feeling and looking the way I did, let alone make her look bad by being in the bridal party.
It was time to kick it into high gear. As I was about to drive home to think of how I could really slim down for this wedding, I noticed a small orange paper under my windshield wiper. It read “Come Tryout Orange Theory;” it was like the universe knew exactly what I needed. I remember participating in Orange Theory when it first opened and loving every minute of the workout.
Here went nothing. I was in the studio and paid to take this class. There was no way I could back out now, and who knew maybe I would love it. Holy Cow! The workout not only kicked my butt, but I burned 450 calories? It was the best day thus far. I knew I could do it. The last couple of months leading to the wedding I would work out five times a week and rest on the weekends. It would be just like cheerleading practice.
I was use to grueling schedules, and it was on the way home from work anyways. Who could pass up this type of convenience. As I began that long month of February, I realized that I had finally found a schedule that made me want to put on a sports bra with no shirt. The pounds felt like they were flying off, and the scale solidified that feeling. I finally passed my threshold and got to my 2nd mile marker: 137 pounds
It took me so long to see those numbers all on the scale at the same time that the tears started pouring down. I had worked so hard for this, and I was finally excited to put on a bikini and stand next to my best friend as she said ‘I Do’ to the man of her dreams.
I could finally wear shorts without wanting to hide in the house or wear a tank top that was form fitting. It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders and the days seemed brighter. I finally looked forward to going out with friends, or going on dates with my boyfriend. Finally I was happy.
You may think this is the end of the story, but that is the farthest thing from the truth. I am constantly fighting to stay at the weight that I am while also trying to lose weight. The secret to weight loss does not start with the workout and how rigorous it is or how healthy you have it eat, or even how much you work out. It starts with your support system.
I could tell you that it was only because of all these positive changes that I made which helped me lose weight, but I couldn’t have done it without my personal cheerleaders. I knew if I feel down or lost faith in myself there was someone there waiting with a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on. They motivate me every day to continue what I have started and today I can finally say I have lost 32 pounds.
Hey guys! During my weight loss journey, I found a lot of different ways to motivate myself. One of these ways was through reading Kayla Itsines’ story, which led to trying out some of her workouts and nutrition guides.
This recipe guide is a part of her Bikini Body Guide series and helped teach me how to make great tasting food and curb cravings. If you’re struggling with or know a friend that is struggling with weight loss, check it out these recipes and see if they work for you!
I am far from done on this journey, but for the first time I am even more excited to see where it takes me in the end.
“Be the Change” – I had heard this quote when I was younger, but never did it resonate with me quite like it does now. It seems that Ghandi might have known a thing or two.
Growing up I was like any other kid when it came to eating. I may have been a bit picky when it came to items on my plate touching, but other than that, I was just the standard teeny-bopper.
It’s what my mom and dad served me. It’s what gave me energy to play. It’s what all my friends were eating. It was just part of life.
As I grew older, and went away to college, I began to take a greater interest in exactly what I was eating — for aesthetic purposes. I realized that since I was no longer on my family’s meal plan and no longer active with cheerleading, I needed to step it up and put forth my best foot to stay fit. There was no Freshman 15 being had by this chick. I knew that for sure.
I began to listen to what exactly society deemed healthy. This was a process that came in many stages. I call it my health evolution.
This evolution’s first stop was my freshman year of college, a time of heavily processed energy bars, sugar-doused granola, frozen preservative-loaded, “healthy” meals, lots of refined carbs and highly saturated fatty animal products.
During my sophomore year of college, I lived in my very first apartment equipped with a full kitchen, where I cooked the heck out of it. I was experimenting with dishes, finding out what I could cook, but mostly trying my best to imitate the delicious meals my mom had made for me at home.
This was all very exciting for me and when I realized how simple and economical it was to cook for yourself. At this point, the term “clean eating” was bounced around in my head as I started following various healthy living blogs, but I didn’t truly understand this concept until much later.
Sophomore year consisted of a great deal of frozen chicken and fish that I would store up and thaw when needed. Since I no longer had my mom or dad to do the “gross” part of cooking, I realized how disturbed I was to work with these dead animal carcasses, touching their slimy, pale flesh, carving into their meek bones, muscles and tendons.
I would usually try to zone out and continue to reassure myself that the after effect would be worth my disgust. This feeling seems to be common with so many people–something I would later note.
My reasons for eating well and exercising transformed from an aesthetic purpose to overall well-being inside and out. At this point in time, my diet consisted of heavy amounts of salmon, chicken, shrimp, cheese, eggs, Greek yogurt, super grains, nuts, and vegetables. I was living my life as healthy as I knew how.
In May 2013, I decided to start my own healthy living blog, entitled CHOWIDO. I had followed so many different blogs of the same sort for quite a while and figured it was my turn to give it a shot. From there on, I was so invested in presenting the best food, the best workouts, and the best lifestyle to my readers, I was head-deep in my own research.
I had come across this diet called “veganism” a few times, but brushed it off as extreme and unnecessary. How could a diet with no meat, cheese or eggs be healthy? LOL yeah right, let me just keep doing my thang.
It wasn’t until I met another blogger from Canada that my opinion was changed. She was just like me, roughly my age, a fitness fanatic, health-foodie chef that had made this vegan transformation on her journey to find her best self. She had me convinced that this lifestyle yielded top-notch health benefits. Still, I couldn’t imagine a life without chicken and fish, let alone cheese and eggs.
In effort to have an edgy blog topic, I decided to try this crazy diet out for myself. I did a trial “vegan week” starting July 5, 2013. During this time, I not only researched foods to buy and meals to make, but watched two life-changing documentaries.
“Forks Over Knives” and “Vegucated” had me question all the information I had grown to know true, the very information I found sacred. Was it really so that meat, dairy and eggs were unhealthy for you?
From discovering that the consumption of animal proteins and fats are directly linked to western world diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and realizing the repulsive, violent reality of factory farming today, and the detriment animal agriculture has on our environment, I knew I had to do something.
It’s crazy to think that this all started with my desire to dive into health and wellness research to become the best me I could be, but slowly transitioned into scattered ethical and environmental contemplation of my daily actions. Everything I had known to be kosher was now far from it.
I began to question…
I was puzzled now to define what it meant to carry out a healthy diet and by the meat and dairy industry that I had never thought twice about buying into.
I had seen other documentaries related to the food industry and knew it wasn’t pretty, but this was something else. And I could do something about it.
Meanwhile, I was genuinely enjoying the vegan foods I had been preparing. These foods were delicious and there was so much variety to choose from. I wasn’t hungry and I still had plenty of energy, if not more, to complete my workouts.
Nobody likes to be the odd man out, being criticized for the lifestyle they live. It definitely made me think about everything twice.
I decided to continue on until the end of the summer, as I imagined it would be too difficult upon my return back to college. When the end of summer arrived, the lifestyle had grown on me and I had invested my time into even more research. I wanted to push forward.
As the school months went on, it was evident that the most difficult part of being vegan was social scrutiny by people who had not done their research. It felt like I was spending all my time and energy convincing people that what I was doing was acceptable, that what I was doing should be okay in the eye’s of society, when in fact, it should be applauded.
There came a turning point about six months into my vegan transition that I realized I no longer needed to defend myself. I would merely give the facts to those who questioned and move on.
I felt vibrant! I felt so mentally clear, calm and collected in my daily interactions. I felt so physically lean and was more energized than ever. I had never felt better. And the best part? I could eat as much as I want on this lifestyle of abundance! I made sure to document all of this on my blog.
I realized that the only way to effectively convince people of the positivity in this powerful shift in lifestyle was to lead by example — to be the change.
I, alone, was making a difference, in my own life, the lives of so many animals, and the very Earth we stand on. I felt absolutely empowered knowing the impact I was making. It was now time for people to realize this.
From then on, it was history. I have been vegan now for nearly two years and plan on continuing to do so for the rest of my life. I say with absolute confidence that going vegan was the single greatest decision I have ever made.
Aside from transforming into a healthier, more vibrant human being, I have grown into a more conscious, more compassionate, more worldly individual. It’s crazy how differently I see the world now than I did just a couple years ago.
Never would I have thought about the process my food endured from farm to plate. Never would I have thought about all the lives I am affecting by choosing which foods to consume. Never would I have thought about the environmental impact of my menu choice.
In effort to do my part, I founded The Veg Club of Virginia Tech in August 2014 to gather vegans, vegetarians and those who are simply interested in the lifestyle to get together to create positive change on campus and in the Blacksburg community. I also served this past year as a student advisory committee member of Virginia Tech Dining Services representing the vegan voice on campus.
We have much more power and influence on the world than we think.
It’s time we acknowledge that and move forward with change.
Through my journey, I have learned a few important things…
“Heres to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They are not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs
To educate yourself further on this amazing plant-based lifestyle, I highly recommended watching Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Food, Inc., Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, Earthlings, and Cowspiracy.
Be the Change. The most effective way to lead others is by example. Exemplify the type of change you want to see and you shall watch it happen. Since July 5, 2013, my life has been altered forever. It has led me to discover where my true calling lies. I aspire to spend the rest of my life changing the world, one plant-based diet at a time.